How to Make a Wooden Business Card Holder W/ Laser-cut Logo




Introduction: How to Make a Wooden Business Card Holder W/ Laser-cut Logo

I found some chunks of wood that were almost the perfect size for a business card holder. It's almost Father's Day, so that is what they became!

**I made this at TechShop in San Francisco**

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Step 1: Required Materials

You will need:

1. a block of wood--the ones I found were 4"x4" square. If you can't find this specifically, then a larger piece cut to size would work too.
2. pencil
3. bandsaw*
4. clear 1/8" acrylic
5. Computer with vector drawing program such as Adobe Illustrator*
6. laser cutter*
7. white acrylic paint
8. damp paper towel
9. 4 penny nails (preferably the kind that come with picture frame hanging kits, you know, the short ones)
10. dremel (or other rotary tool) with drum sander attachment--it's a standard one that usually comes with the tool
11. small drill bit
12. hammer, preferably hard rubber*
13. small adjustable clamp
14. power drill*
15. vice*
16. E6000 all-purpose adhesive
17. toothpick

*these tools were provided by TechShop

Step 2: Cut Down Blocks

1. draw approximate cut lines with pencil
2. cut along lines with bandsaw
3. look at the included image (3rd image) with side profiles. Either profile will work--the example on the right will hold cards a little better but may hold a smaller stack

Step 3: Create Logo File

1. Measure the dimensions of the front face and write these down. For my holder, the dimensions were 2in tall and 2.5 wide.
2. acquire or approximate the logo or design you would like in Adobe Illustrator. The logo I used consisted of text only so I was able to recreate it fairly easily. You may also raster a photo on the acrylic however I found that a vector cut of the outline of the text was more visible than a rastering. 
**Please refer to StumpChunkman's Instructable, specifically step 7 on the different types of cuts**
3. Scale your design to fit, centered on the front face (using measurements from step 1)

Step 4: Prepare File for Laser

1. Measure your material (the clear acrylic) for the laser cutter. Cut the piece down to size if it doesn't fit in the machine
---in my case, the material was roughly 10" square
2. create a new file in Adobe Illustrator defined by the dimensions of your material
3.  Use the "place" command (under file>place) to insert the logo made in the previous step. The file should already be prepared with proper line widths, but if not, make sure that the items you want to "vector cut" have a line thickness of .001pts. 
4.Arrange the logo in the top left hand corner of your material--you should begin a series of "test" cuts (see next step) and starting here will make this process easier, or at least I think it does.

Step 5: Start Cutting!

***Without going into to much detail about basic laser cutter operation (which can be found in much more detail here), this step is meant to emphasize the importance of TEST CUTTING.***

1. place material in machine and set focus
2. since both parts of my logo are vector cuts but I only want to cut all the way through with the outline of the square, I will need to do each cut separately. (Alternatively, I could use the color mapping technique, but I chose not to since this was simple enough. depending on your logo, this might be a good option)--Additionaly, in my case, once I figured out the power/speed settings for the cut-out (square), I didn't need to waste time cutting that again for all the practice cuts I did on the text
3. Play around with the power/speed settings in order to get a clear and more importantly, legible cut. Be sure to move the text inside the file each time you do a new test cut so that you don't overlap 
4. Once you have a logo you are happy with, do a final cut (with cut-out)
(in fact, once you are happy with your settings, make a few extra just in case you might need them later)

Step 6: Use Acrylic Paint to Emphasize Logo

For this part of the project, you will need:
-the damp towel we talked about earlier
-a dry paper towel (you can kill two birds with one stone by dampening half of a paper towel and keeping the other end dry)
-white acrylic paint
-your finger

1. squeeze a small amount of paint onto your fingertip
2 smear over top (etched) side of the acrylic
3. wipe off excess with damp paper towel
4. buff with dry paper towel

Step 7: Create Pocket for Acrylic Logo (then Stick It in There!)

This step is a little imprecise but because my original attempt to laser the logo directly onto the wood failed (I think the wood is douglas fir, which has insurmountably large grain structure, obscuring anything you try to raster etch into it), I had to improvise and this step is evidence of that. 

For this step you will need:
-dremel (or other rotary tool) with drum sander attachment--it's a standard one that usually comes with the tool
-small drill bit
-power drill*
-penny nails, preferably the kind that come in a picture frame hanging kit (they are really short)
-hammer, preferably hard rubber
-small adjustable clamp
-E6000 adhesive

*used at TechShop

1. using the rotary tool, make a rough pocket , utilizing the edge of the sanding barrel to clean up the edges. Try to make the pocket approximately the depth of your acrylic (mine was 1/8") a drill bit slightly larger than the nails--normally with woodworking and other things, you will want to choose a bit that is slightly smaller but in this case a larger bit will help avoid cracking the acrylic when tapping in the nails
3. using small adjustable clamp, clamp the acrylic piece inside the pocket to keep it in place while drilling
4. fix the whole thing in a vice (cannot use drill press because the clamp would interfere with table)
3. drill a hole in each corner (try to drill deep enough for the entire nail, roughly .25" in this case), being VERY CAREFUL not to put too much pressure on the acrylic, lest it crack (this is why we made several extra acrylic pieces earlier)
4. GENTLY tap the nails into each pre-drilled hole
5. using a toothpick , add a little bit of E6000 around the edges and near the nails to hold everything in place

Step 8: Put It to Use!

Congratulations! You are finished! Now fill it with business cards and impress your colleagues!

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